_debbiechan_ (_debbiechan_) wrote in bleachness,

A Shipper's Essay by OD

Not by me. By Bleach Obsessed, aka OD and reposted here with her permission. OD writes lots of convincing Bleach analysis, a lot of it loaded with inside jokes and barbs, but I thought this essay was especially accessible and thoughtful. The dreaded Rukia-Ichigo-Orihime thread at Anime Suki was re-opened just because of it! (You can find the original essay here. and at the IR FC at BA)

Messages from Kubo Tite
A Shipper's Essay..
(An SS & HM Arc Comparison)


The idea for this essay came about as I was reading, chapter 343. The chapter-- kind of “meh”. There was one thing that stood out in my mind. It was an example of character behavior and a contradiction in his actions of the SS arc.

This made me remember that post I did regarding character behavior. The one in which I used characters POV’s--- characters that weren’t a part of my OTP or one of the main players of Bleach Manga/Anime love triangle, as evidence to support my OTP. It also occurred to me that some find the idea quite laughable, and I am struggling to understand why.

So I got thinking…Why do people disregard all the signals? Why do they cling to so little and ignore the all the efforts of Kubo Tite? Are they deliberately ignoring it or is it something else? Could it be that they are actually reading Manga like an ordinary book?

A book is written in one of three POV. 1st, 2nd or 3rd party perspective, it literally tells you everything that is going on. How the characters feel, there is no guessing. The same cannot be true of Manga. Manga does all three and makes use of other mediums, like visual aids, and character behavior.

Kubo uses his supporting cast to tell a story, if the story is about Ichigo and Rukia. It makes sense that he’d use the rest of his characters to help tell their story.

He uses their behavior and their words. Contradictions in thoughts and deeds…He doesn’t limit himself to just using characters. He uses other mediums, some glaringly obvious and some are more subtle. He uses title pages, and symbolism. He uses Illustrations and Panels. (Size and page length devoted to an event does count for something)

So I was inspired to write a series of Essays based on my thoughts. The first one deals with his use of supporting roles to enforce the idea that Ichigo and Rukia’s relationship will evolve romantically, While Inoue Orihime’s remains unrequited.

Bleach, which is Shounen and primarily written for boys.
It is not a romance. Yet it does have romantic undertones. Complex emotions that fall under “romance” are core elements of the story. Bleach can not exist without them. Two key elements are-- the IchiRuki bond and the other is Orihime’s love for Ichigo.

Both these relationships are vital to the story as whole. Still I believe that Orihime’s love although the most overt, was never meant to come to fruition. I came to this conclusion, based on the overwhelming evidence; the odds are stacked in her favor. I also think that too many people rely solely on text and current events. While failing to look at the bigger picture.

Because woven all throughout Bleach are messages from Kubo Tite…


IchiRuki is an amazing fandom. It's one in which the pair as close as a couple without actually being one. In fact in any other Romance Manga their relationship would indeed be seen as the canon romance. It also is one in which the couple’s relationship is not only the core element of story, it is one that exists without any real verbal confession from either of them

I don’t really believe the former sentence is true. I think that KT has been really clear in saying that he intends for the eventual paring of IchiRuki and Orihime’s feelings will remain unrequited. Yet for some reason this “eventual paring of IchiRuki” is largely debated and denied.

It makes me wonder exactly what people look for, when determining a love match or not, when it’s not stated outright. Do they just rely on text? What about minor character’s behavior? If they do, is it past, current or both? Do they rely solely on the actions of the main couple alone, as the major determining factor? Do they take into account the behavior of the supporting cast, or do they ignore it? The list goes on…

Characters can be used as an expression of another character’s feelings; the behavior of one character can actually be an answer to a question about another character. They can help to explain the reason behind, actions committed by the main character. Bleach isn’t a romance and their romance is not the focus of the entire story, yet--- it does exist. The job of romantic development falls not on Ichigo and Rukia, but the supporting cast.
Through them he is able to express, just how deep the IchiRuki bond run

Kubo has suggested that a relationship between Ichigo and Rukia is more likely because they both share deep feelings for the other. He has used the SS and the HM arc to send a message: Ichigo may have the desire to save Orihime, yet it is clear that his motivation and desire to do so are not born from romantic reasons. Nor will this arc lead to a romantic conclusion
One of the ways he does that is through his supporting cast;

Article I

Testimony; Sporting Cast ~

While reading chapter 343 Ishida’s entrance stood out in my mind

I am almost sure that you are probably thinking “what are you smoking?” It is true, that if I were to ake that one example of his behavior by itself, doesn’t say much of anything beyond Ishida is saving Orihime.

It struck me as I was reading the chapter that Ishida’s hero entrance was indeed a message from Kubo Tite. I suddenly begin to recall a specific event and how Ishida’s actions were a direct contradiction of his words in said chapter. How his actions show just how empty Ichigo’s desire to save Orihime really is…

Back track a little bit to--Chapter 164, SS arc. Ishida and the others are at the Soukyoku. The question is why is Ichigo fighting so hard for Rukia and it is Ishida who gives the explanation. It is not only the explanation...
Instead I began to focus on Ishida’s thoughts regarding Orihime. Ishida makes a statement…

“I understand. Even if we/she tried to help we/she would only get in his way. At the same time I understand that even if we/she could help him. Kurosaki would not wish it”

[we/she: depending on translation.]

Again Ishida has expressed just how deep Ichigo cares for Rukia. He didn’t say she was “That who changed the world” yet his words have just as much meaning as Orihime’s.

What I find the most interesting is… Ishida realizes and respects Ichigo’s wishes to be Rukia’s sole protector. To be the one who personally vanquishes all those who would dare to harm her. He wants her safe, but more than that, he wants to be the guy that is responsible for that safety.

Because Ishida gives insight to Ichigo’ feelings, acknowledges those feelings for Rukia, acknowledges Ichigo’s desire to be the one. I don’t believe that Ishida would have intervened whether he were powerless or not. It’s made clear that this fight is personal, for a number of reasons but all involve Rukia…the main one is Ichigo’s heart. It’s not a fight for pride; he fights solely for a loved one, solely because he loves someone.

Yet in 343 in never occurs to Ishida that Ichigo wants to save Orihime by himself. That is was necessary to him, he fight Ulquiorra to save her. I know he had no choice to but to act in that situation. My point is, he’s already there…There is no dialogue about Ichigo’s motivation this time. There is no consideration of his wishes. For some reason Ishida has chosen to disregard Ichigo entirely and concentrate on Orihime. I am not questioning his reasons---Ishihime shippers can you stay with me. Don’t run off yet…

Now I don’t believe this is a blatant attempt at shipping by Kubo Tite. I do believe it is a subtle indicator of what Orihime is not, and just how much Rukia means to Ichigo. Because Kubo has used this same character differently in nearly the same situation. In SS, Ishida is used to confirm of the romantic nature, of Ichigo’s quest to save Rukia.

Yet his presence takes away from the romance in Orihime’s rescue. It’s hardly romantic to have the potential competition save the damsel instead of her male lead. It also adds credence to the notion that Ichigo’s feelings for Rukia are much deeper than mere friendship. To support this theory I have to go back to another character that functioned in the same manner as Ishida; Ganju.

In chapter 105 Ganju tells Hanatarou. That Ichigo came all the way to Soul Society to save Rukia. He must want to do so “with his own hands”. That he put aside is his wishes because he valued Rukia’s safety above else. Again the idea that “Ichigo is only fighting to save Rukia” is enforced. Again another character not only confirms his feelings, they let us know what Ichigo’s true motives are.

Fast forward a bit…In all of HM arc there has never been a character that does this for Orihime. Instead it’s the exact opposite, there has only been an assertion that Ichigo has not behaved as he should have, during Orihime’s rescue.

In chapter 280 Grimmjow asks Ichigo “ Lemme ask you Kurosaki…What did you come here for anyway *Ichigo answers*--If that’s true then why didn’t you take her and run the minute you saw her”
I don’t about you, but the minute I read those words, an image of SS in Ichigo in chapter 152...

yelling “Take her away! Don’t let her go even if it kills you!”

When Ichigo uttered those words, I immediately thought if Rukia were a possession, she would be his most precious one. He’d just entrusted Renji with something (someone) whom he treasured above all else. Yet when I read Grimmjow’s words, in my eyes it diminished Orihime’s value to Ichigo. Granted this was not because of what Ichigo had done, but because of something he hadn’t done. This something was expressed through a minor character.

Article II

Indirect Confessions;Supporting Cast~

In all of HM arc—to date, there has not been one affirmation of Ichigo’s feelings for Orihime, like I was shown repeatedly in SS.

There are two characters that get the credit for doing just that. One is actually helps to confirm, Ichigo values Rukia above all others, and promote friendship. The other’s purpose has been misconstrued.

Nel is credited with conformation of Inoue’s value to Ichigo. But I do not believe that is true. Nel’s purpose is not to put emphasis on Orihime's importance to Ichigo, but to shake some sense into her. Her job is to reprimand Orihime for her fear. The reason I cannot see it as conformation—Ichigo’s admission, belied her words.

If Kubo truly wanted to convey the message that he was fighting Grimmjow solely for Orihime's sake. Then having Grimm suggest that Ichigo was really angry at him because of what he did to Rukia...Is not the way to do so.

In the chapter that is one of the most debated and used by both IchiRuki shippers and IchiRuki detractors …Chapter 270
It opens with the news “Kuchiki Rukia is dead”

A lot of wank has been made over the “Epic Turnaround” and the “You kidnapped Orihime rage”. Ichigo’s need to confirm Rukia’s death above with his own eye's, above everything else, and his rage over Orihime’s kidnapping though significant is not the major evidence that damns or supports either ship. It is the fact that Kubo used Ulquiorra to once again highlight the IchiRuki bond it what was supposed to be an Ichihime arc.

In the SS arc rescue never did Ichigo’s feelings for another overshadow the rescue. In SS all the characters supported the theory that Ichigo cared deeply for Rukia. Instead of Ulquiorra helping to promote a belief that Ichigo will fall for, or cares for Orihime. He helps to create doubt. Ichigo’s feelings for Rukia are used by him, as provocation. Instead of making the reader fall in love with Ichigo and Orihime, he reminds us that inside of Ichigo is, Rukia. Never in all of SS arc has it been implied Ichigo cared more for another did he did the one he was rescuing.

Again in chapter, 248 another chapter the shippers fight over.
Ichigo flips out when he find the group must split up. The debate is whether or not Ichigo was upset because they all had to go alone or because he was being separated from Rukia. Which is confusing because Rukia confirms it her he is worried about and not the whole group—but for arguments sake. Let’s say Rukia meant “we” instead of "Me" but said “I” because she was the speaker. The scene can be interpreted two ways. Using Renji, and a gesture…without words, Kubo makes a powerful statement.

Renji stands in front of Ichigo as a shield, making it clear that Ichigo’s beef is because he feels personally responsible for her safety.
Kubo made sure to make it known before the Arc began that Rukia is valued is above all others. It was if it was to say, “She’s still number one”

Remember Ichigo has already assumed the role of soul protector in the SS arc. This was proven by Ichigo and the supporting casts in more ways than one. That is why no one questioned why he was able to power up, upon news of Rukia’s impending execution. Instead you expected it. Because all the characters had already testified on Ichigo’s behalf, they all told you the reasons that motivated him.

Yet in chapter 340,
Ulquiorra questions him. I noticed a lot ofIchiRuki detractors shipper’s crow over the fact that Ulquiorra asked “Is it because of her?” I just wonder if the noticed that Ulquiorra asks this because unlike the SS arc it has not been established that indeed he does fight for Orihime. Unlike the “Why do you keep trying to save her” the big question all the characters are asking is “ARE you trying to save her?”

No one questions the reason Ichigo is able to power up in chapter 133

They may have wondered how Ichigo got his powers, never has anyone wondered--> why<-- Ichigo was fighting.
Because we lack Ichigo’s POV and we have to rely on the supporting characters to tell us. Only they can’t because Ichigo hasn’t done anything or shown any evidence that he is consumed with the desire to save her. Ichigo hasn’t established anything and none of the supporting cast has either. Instead of supporting the theory of IchiHime like they had IchiRuki in the SS.

In short, they can’t tell us what they don’t know, only what they see. Obviously what they see is not enough to be conclusive so they have to ask “Is it because of her…or because of them?”


A lot of IchiRuki detractors always assert that Inoue is the only character in Bleach to confess. Now I won’t bring up the fact that her confession to a coma victim was about the same as a tree falling with a loud thud in the forest, without anyone hearing it- - - I will just disagree.

Bleach is not a romance, even IchiRuki shippers agree that a romantic declaration between the two at this point in time, would be wholly out of place. Yet I think what most people don’t realize is, one is not needed because it has been done already by both parties via indirect confession…
In chapter 94
Hanatarou tells Ichigo how Rukia feels about him. Ichigo’s response is “stupid those are mine lines”
Likewise in chapter 155 Renji tells Rukia about how Ichigo feels for her. His thoughts nearly mirror hers, so no confirmation is needed.
There are some who would say that’s not a confession since no one has used the words love. Yet one of the definitions for love…

A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.

Clearly said that both were tantamount to confession. It wasn’t a direct confession because in Bleach there really is no place for one. It is not a romance…yet we have both parties describing how they feel about a loved one via third party. In HM arc all we have is Inoue’s unheard confession. We have nothing from Ichigo to this day. So I have to ask was that really a confession? Aside from the absence of the word “love” what is it about Ichigo and Rukia’s indirect confession that says it’s not one. Because in my opinion it was one and it was intended for me to perceive it as such, since it just another in the long list of messages from Kubo Tite..

The No Smiley Zone
(maybe one or two because I get the giggles when I am doing this)

The first thing I want to talk about is "Ichigo's Motivations; His Desire". How both those things play a big part in helping to determine that SS Arc is the romance arc. Likewise they BOLDLY express that the HM is the friendship arc.

But...I want to take Ichigo, Rukia and Orihimeout of this equation for a minute.

Let's look at the SS Arc for minute.
Click the thumbnails.
Chad (and Kyouraku)



In in both arcs Kubo was able to express Ichigo's desire. He was able to tell exactly what motivated Ichigo to save each girl,very clearly. (his lack off both as well) He didn't always rely on the three major players to do so either.
Just by using other characters KT was able to show us, just how deep the IchiRuki bond is.

In the first example with Chad. Rukia is not a friend. He hasn't spent any time with her. He does not have a reason to save her. Ichigo is a friend who he's made a pact to die for... but he's NOT putting his life on the line for that. He's not doing it because he's watching Ichigo's back. No he's putting his life on the line because Ichigo wants to save Rukia. Chad says, it's because Ichigo's desire to save Rukia is so strong, that he's putting in his life on the line. If Ichigo is willing to die for her, then he will too.

I also believe Kyouraku statement "Rukia-chan has only been gone some two or three months. That's not long enough to form a bond, Not reason enough to put your life on the line.". A double entendre, since that should apply to Ichigo as well. Yet in that short time it's clear that Ichigo and Rukia have one. In that short time it's strong enough for him to put his life on the line.

It's just one of the things that clearly expresses. That Ichigo feels for Rukia like he does no other.

Now Renji is different. Although there is is a flashback of Ichigo. This time it is Renji telling Rukia just what she means to Ichigo. Ichigo mentions a debt, but look at the reason he feels "obligated" ...towards Rukia.

"Rukia changed my life Rukia changed my fate. It is because of Rukia that I can be here now."

I say... forget about the word "debt". Um...Doesn't anyone see the bigger picture? The deeper meaning behind those words. The absences of anything remotely similar in the HM in arc?

Instead of Ichigo directly confessing any feelings for Rukia. Renji does it for Ichigo. It's still as romantic too

Nii-sama bad mofo that he is. He did all the above :cookie... with a single sentence.
Why do you try to save Rukia, so persistently?"
"So PERSISTENTLY" He just affirmed that Ichigo's ONE TRUE GOAL is to save Rukia. I could be wrong, but none them ever called him a liar. None of them ever made me doubt that my conclusion of a potential romance was incorrect...that my belief that the SS arc's main theme was "Romance" was untrue.
They have never given me a reason to believe otherwise. The same cannot be said of the HM arc.

Speaking of the Doubt and Friendship Arc....coughcough...*clears throat*...erm. the HM arc. (:rofl)


In HM arc I noticed some MAJOR things that paralleled the above. Yet it actually said the opposite of what the characters told me about Ichigo in the SS Arc. In the SS arc... They told me how Ichigo feels about Rukia. They told me how much he wanted to save her. How strong that desire to save her was....Then in HM Arc. They started to play tricks with my mind...:yell


The first character to do a number on my mind was GJ. He asks Ichigo why he came to HM. Ichigo says to "To save Inoue" GJ...says liar *what?!* ("if that's true why didn't you take the bitch and run") , you are fighting me for Rukia. Then to add fuel to the fire, he says..."You don't understand...Let me explain you came to fight!"

At this point I am like...:headscratch So he didn't come to save her...
That isn't his true desire? [STRIKE]Really? [/STRIKE]I mean I know he wants to save her...I knew it was different but I didn't think anyone was going to come out and say it.

So maybe I could be wrong.... Small chance, right?


Then Zaraki shows up! His purpose...to remind Ichigo who forgot what his true purpose was. Inoue's rescue, Inoue's safety...
I expected him to fight a few bad guys. I just didn't expect him to put fighting him above rescuing the damsel. But again I could be wrong ,right?


WTH?!:cry Now Ulq is aiding in my confusion. Chapter 340. A lot of wank was made over the question "Is it for this woman?". Meanwhile not enough wank was made over Ichigo's flash back...Because during this last exchange with Ulquiorra, again Ichigo remembers his lack of proper concern over Inoue's welfare. Although he may have thinking about ... " OMG! What could have been done to Orihime?!"
The memory that was jarred by Ulq's words was the one in which GJ is remarking on his thoughtlessness..

Hell even Orihime mindraped me:cry

Well lookee here...Someone has to be put back in the equation. To add further doubt-- to the increasing doubt I had about a potential threat to my ship. (There isn't one) Orihime admits that even she didn't really believe he came to save her.
During the fight that Ichigo is having with GJ. The one in which Kubo has hinted is really about a grudge for Rukia. Orihime is not the reason at all, and just happens to be there.

Wow is it just me or did KT did a total 360 in this arc, when it came to character behavior? . In the SS arc the characters all supported the theory that Ichigo cared deeply for Rukia. In HM they did the same. They told me he how he felt about Rukia (Saving that for last :XD) Yet they keep trying to make me think Ichigo doesn't feel the same way for Orihime. (It worked too) Not even close...

For arguments sake-- Nel...

You could say..."Nel confirmed it for Ichigo" My problem with seeing that as evidence that I am indeed mistaken is...

Nel doesn't know anyone but Ichigo.
Unlike the characters in SS Arc she isn't directly connected to Ichigo, Orihime or Rukia. So how in the hell would she know?! She's only speaking with an opinion, based on what she witnessed. So for me, her words aren't good enough. Not when all the other evidence that contradicts hers...overwhelms hers. Just by repetition alone...

Besides you have Ichigo (He's back too)...;

"Okay ....you got me, I am lying. I will tell the truth...YES I DID I DID COME HERE TO FIGHT YOU!""
[STRIKE] that's why I am busy fighting you instead of trying to drag the girl to safety.[/STRIKE]

By now KT has accomplished his goal. I am now doubting Ichigo as well. because in SS arc... Instead of the "Liar--No I am not...Ok I am"

We have Ichigo spouting cheesy romantic lines, while he's saying...;

Byakuya: "I will kill Rukia with my own hands"
Ichigo: "That won't happen...That's EXACTLY WHY I CAME"
No one has called him a liar.

In the Ichi vs Bya fight and Ichi vs GJ fight.
Ichigo was asked why he came and gave the same answer (just delivered differently) In SS...it was taken as fact. In HM arc his word wasn't good enough. He was called a liar, he was reminded, he was told why he really came. He admitted it was true...Does anybody see where I am going here? :noes.
The two arcs are similar in some ways. On the other hand the differences are major

Tags: ichiori, ichiruki, ishida, orihime, rukia, shipping
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